It's an eye opener for anyone who lives in large buildings or complexes that contain their own mailrooms. In one particular case, investigators say surveillance video captures mail fraud and identity theft in action. They add, the suspect on video takes advantage of a flawed system for how mail is handled in large buildings.
"The subject began stealing personal identifiers and names and dates of birth of individuals in that building," explained U.S. Postal Inspector Glen McKechnie. "The residents of that building, the victims, placed their checks in an outgoing box, in an unofficial outgoing box supplied by the building."
It's in that location where this crime starts.
"He would steal outgoing checks that residents would send to pay bills," added McKechnie.
The suspect in the video uses a stick to remove mail from the outgoing-mail location.
"He would cross the name off the check and divert that check to a credit card that he had opened up in another victims name," McKechnie explained.
This would create an apparent overage on the credit card. The suspect would then write the credit card company requesting a check for that overage and have that check sent to a mailbox he controlled. And investigators say he was successful. There were 25 victims and over $100,000 in losses.
"ID theft is one of the largest growing crimes in America," warned McKechine. "The criminals the bad guys are only bound by their imagination, they will doing anything to get out information and use that information to wreak havoc."
Postal inspectors say we are all vulnerable but there is one important step we can all take to help secure our personal information.
"When you put your mail in a collection box - you want to make sure it is a postal service box, those are secure boxes. If you put it in an insecure box, you are potentially open to being victimized," advised McKechine.
The suspect in this case is charged with multiple counts of grand larceny and ID theft and if convicted, could face 1 to 3 years in prison.